Why does Manteca — a city of 73,000 – still have a library that was designed for a community of 36,000?
It’s the same reason it doesn’t have a dog park.
There is no well-organized grassroots effort to keep pressure on the powers that be to make either happen.
You may disagree with the need for a dog park if you’re a library booster. And by the same token you may think a dog park is long overdue if you’re a canine fanatic. But that really isn’t the point.
Manteca has neither additional library facilities nor a dog park because simply wanting either isn’t going to make anything happen.
There have been periodic pushes for new library facilities since 1992. As for the dog park, it first was blessed by a city council in 2002.
The community efforts fizzled out after unsuccessful attempts. Manteca didn’t get state library bond money so everyone involved went “oh well.” The dog park didn’t materialize in six months after it was approved initially so boosters walked away.
If library boosters are expecting Councilman Vince Hernandez to carry their water, they need to get a reality check. A council member advocating a community project isn’t a movement. Without a well-organized broad support base, Hernandez might as well be Don Quixote.
There are always significantly more demands and wants chasing limited dollars whether it is government, the private sector or your own household budget.
It is those projects that enjoy broad-based and vocal or high profile support that typically prevail.
A prime example of that is the 120 Bypass.
There were a hundred plus projects ahead of it on the state’s list of highway construction priorities back in the 1970s. Even though traffic backed up for miles on Fridays and Sundays due to Bay Area to Sierra travel, the state told city leaders funding wasn’t on the 10-year horizon and maybe not realistically possible for 20 years.
That didn’t sit too well with a lot of Manteca residents. A committee was formed. Volunteers stepped up by the dozens. A campaign blitz was launched to get support for the project from Bay Area residents by blanketing various media outlets non-stop. They lobbied Northern California legislators. Volunteers handed flyers seeking support for the bypass to motorists backed up on traffic lights in Manteca on Yosemite Avenue that was Highway 120 at the time.
The full-court pressure never stopped. Several years later the supposedly impossible happened — the Manteca Bypass project went from 100th plus to the top of the list for funding.
While providing library services for a growing community in a world where knowledge and information is changing at the speed of click on a computer is a bit different, the basic strategy can be used.
But instead of the California Transportation Commission and Caltrans, the target is the Manteca City Council and upper level city management.
Hernandez seems willing to assume the role that Jack Snyder did as the elected council member in the bypass blitz. While the Friends of the Library is an effective support group, community support needs to be much broader based.
Petitions are one way. At every community street fair there should be a group manning a booth seeking support for library facilities. Besides distributing info on the needs and what can be done to address them, they could have petitions to sign plus provide contact information for council members and key city leaders.
The group should enlist the active support of service clubs and the chamber of commerce. They should seek the endorsement of business leaders, educators, and those responsible for economic development.
They should request a place on the agenda of every council meeting to give snapshot pictures of both the needs and deficiencies. They should have library patrons and business leaders to speak to the council about how important the library is.
They also should do a speaking blitz of any organization that will have them — Del Webb groups, PTAs, service clubs, and chamber coffees to name a few — to drum up support.
There needs to be social media presence plus an advertising campaign to keep the cause in front of everyone — bumper stickers could do the trick.
The goal is to convince elected leaders and top city management that there is indeed a community demand to make new library facilities a top priority.
And once they put library facilities on the front burner, they need to actively work with the city to devise a strategy to make it happen with a timeline and then bird dog the council, city staff, and community supporters to make it happen.
Right now there is no push for a library. It’s just wishing and hoping.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.